Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day - thank a serviceman or woman today!

copyright 2011, Aaron Paul Lazar

Hello fellow writers and book lovers.

It's Memorial Day weekend, and first and foremost I want to thank every US serviceman or woman within earshot for supporting our country and for defending our freedom. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

If you happen to be passing a veteran selling red poppies today, buy a bunch and shake his or her hand. Thank him for your liberty, and for risking his life for us.

One of our liberties we enjoy in this good old USA is the freedom to choose what we read, and what we say. I thought perhaps I'd share a few new passions with you, from books to music.

Here's one of my new favorite authors: Joan Hall Hovey. I met her by happenstance via Twitter, downloaded and read one of her books, and fell madly in love with her style, characters, and settings. Joan lives with her husband and dog on the banks of the Kennebecasis River in New Brunswick, Canada.

Product Description

CHILL WATERS - Bloody Dagger Award Winner


Following the breakup of her marriage, Rachael retreats to the old beachhouse in Jenny's Cove, where she once lived with her grandmother. It is the one place where she had always felt safe and loved. Devasted and lost, Rachael longs for the simplicity of her childhood.

But Jenny’s Cove has changed. From the moment of Rachael’s arrival, a man watches. He has already killed, and mercilessly will do so again. Soon Rachael becomes a target for a vicious predator whose own dark and twisted past forms a deadly bond between them.

And sets her on a collision course with a crazed killer.

"...Joan Hall Hovey is a female Stephen King... a stunning, multi-layered, modern-day gothic, told with the unforgettable style and grace of a true master of suspense..." Rendezvous Magazine

Here's my mini-review: CHILL WATERS is a tightly written suspense by a supremely talented writer who brings her readers into intimate contact with a whirlwind story. Hovey's sense of place is outstanding, her characters live and breathe (right next to you!) and the suspense/action is phenomenal. I'm hooked, and plan to purchase more books by this writer. Kudos, to Joan Hovey. See more about the mind blowing plot and setting here.

I've just started reading another book by Hovey, entitled NIGHT CORRIDOR. This one promises to be just as good or better than the first!

Here's another book I just finished last night, by one my favorite authors.

Product Description

Becka Johnson had been abandoned on the doorstep of a remote cabin in Chalcedony, Colorado when she was a baby. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has returned to Chalcedony to discover her identity, but she only finds more questions. Who has been looking for her all those years? Why are those same people interested in fellow newcomer Philip Hansen? Who is Philip, and why does her body sing in harmony with his? And what do either of them have to do with a shadow corporation that once operated a secret underground installation in the area?
"Brilliant!" —Suzanne Francis, author of the Song of the Arkafina series

And my mini-review:

I'm already a fan of Pat Bertram's books. I've read them all and loved them deeply. But LIGHT BRINGER was something completely new and surprising... surprising in its freshness, originality, its genre bending brilliance. Part thriller, part fantasy, part sci fi, part mystery...its plots were large and complex, encompassing themes that plague us every day; offering social and world commentary blended with weather trend observations (where ARE all those tornadoes and tsunamis coming from?) I do believe Bertram has defined a new genre, and it is a pure delight. Fresh. Original. Riveting. The characters are real and engaging. I particularly enjoyed the bit of romance between Luke and Jane - yes, another subplot. I couldn't put it down and extend my highest compliments to Ms. Bertram for her supremely smooth writing - there are no hiccups in this book.

Very highly recommended.

Here's another. I met Susan through this blog and Marta Stephens, actually. I actually won a copy of Sin Creek, and now am hooked on her style and stories.

Product Description

A gruesome murder leads Agent Hunter into wicked waters. Some call Gator Creek "Sin Creek"-where the Cape Fear River snakes through eastern North Carolina, past the stunning port city of Wilmington. A sliver of water where wickedness and decadence take precedence over decency. When SBI Agent Logan Hunter discovers a dead UNC-Wilmington coed used porn to pay tuition, she tracks down and questions other coeds. Far too many of them have been coerced into the raunchy business and have the scars to prove it. Hunter battles dens of iniquity, zeroing in on a brazen but somehow elusive ferry to find a deranged killer and bring down the porn operations, while trying to keep her marriage to Agent Chase Railey from falling apart. Even though she succeeds in finding the killer, the investigation changes her life in ways she never could have imagined.
My take on it:

I flew through my read of Sin Creek - completely enamored with the lovely,  tight writing style of Susan Whitfield. Although the book opens with a tragic and tough-to-read about murder - definitely not for the faint of heart - it quickly morphs into a well-told, polished crime story. SBI agent Logan Hunter and her husband Chase are a great couple, of whom I grew very fond. The crimes at hand are horrific; the seedy underbelly of Logan's case involves porn, rape, and abuse. Awful subject, but with wonderful action, sharp and realistic dialogue, and great scene painting... a highly recommended read by a supremely talented writer.

Okay, just one more!

Product Description

In 1945, the semi-nude body of a woman is found in a two-bit Hollywood motel, a telephone cord wrapped around her throat; face frozen in a grimace of horror. The stolen car of a murdered motorist is parked in the motel parking lot, the owner lying broken and dead on the side of an Arizona highway. Al Roberts confesses and has spent the last 29 years in prison. Now, nearly three decades after meekly confessing, the aged Roberts swears his innocence. Jimmy O'Brien, defense attorney to the dregs of the criminal world, must find out why. Why did Roberts give a false confession? And why has he waited 29 years to tell the truth? O'Brien digs into the past, igniting a powder-keg that threatens to expose the long-held secrets behind Detour, the iconic Hollywood film documenting Roberts' story. Secrets that could destroy the underground aristocracy that has held power in Los Angeles, city of broken dreams, for years. Jimmy's ordeal takes him from the bleakness of Roberts' prison cell to the seedy streets of Hollywood, frantically searching to find out who took this DETOUR TO MURDER.
My very short review:

DETOUR TO MURDER is smoothly written and incredibly intriguing. I'm hooked on the Jimmy O'Brien series, and fell deeper in love with his cast of characters, particularly Rita and Sol. The feel of the time period is authentic, beautifully rooted in time and place. The story has enough twists and turns to keep you up at night, and Sherratt's talent weaving the tangled web is superb. I especially liked the empathy he evoked for the misunderstood accused prisoner, Al. Kudos, Mr. Sherratt! Now, on to the next book in the series!


And now, I'd like to leave you with one beautiful bit of music to listen to as you take off your proverbial hat, lay a hand against your chest, and thank our service men and women for their dedication and suffering. I know it's not a traditional red, white, and blue kind of piece, but it's subtle beauty and heart-wrenching sadness made me think of the troops and all they've sacrificed for us.

Thanks to Brenda Tremblay of WXXI FM radio in Rochester, New York, for playing this piece today as I drove to work. I'd heard it before, but hadn't memorized the composer. His name is Tomaso Albinoni and the piece is entitled Adagio in G Minor. 

Remember, if you love to write, write like the wind!

Aaron Lazar

Friday, May 27, 2011

Conquering Writers’ Block

© Jean Henry Mead 2011 all rights reserved

I rarely suffer from writer’s block, thanks to my journalism training, but I’m aware that many writers do. While packing to move, I found an article concerning the malady, written, ironically, by Lawrence Block, a former Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for my blog site, Mysterious Writers.

Block asked the question: “What’s the biggest factor in determining writing success? Not just talent, “but a feel for language, an intuitive understanding of how to arrange words in their best order, a sense of what is and is not dramatically effective.”

Perseverance and the courage to continue writing, no matter how many walls you’ve papered with rejection slips, are also contributing factors. Block credits believing in your ability to write as the most important aspect of successful writing. Comparing writers to athletes, he said, “Mental attitude and preparation make the difference. It plays precisely the same role for us that it does for the runner and the weight lifter. The more completely I believe in myself, the more I am able to employ the talent I possess. My belief in my ability and in the worth of my work will enable me to work to the limit of my capacity."

He recommends sitting at the computer for fifteen minutes before beginning to write. Spend that time telling yourself what a good writer you are and that you do excellent work. Erasing negative thoughts before you begin is a huge step in getting those words down on paper. Negative beliefs, whether or not you’re aware of them, can sabotage your work. Thoughts such as: I’m not a good writer, what I’ve written is crap, I never finish what I start, no one will publish my work, etc.

As so often happens, the first third of your book goes well but when you get to the middle you’re stuck, particularly if you don’t outline the plot (which I don’t). During my current work in progress, I wrote myself into a corner and had to put my story in reverse and back up some 20,000 words. It was not only discouraging, it briefly made me lose confidence in my ability to write. But once I took off in another direction, the writing went quite well.

I’ve also found that reading the previous chapter before starting to write helps to carry me forward into the next chapter. Bestselling novelists I’ve interviewed have said to stop writing when you’re over the “hump”—when a plot problem is solved—so that you’re ready to finish the scene the following day. That isn’t always as easy as it sounds because you want your muse to run its course before you quit for the day.

I aim for five pages and sometimes find that it’s like pulling teeth to meet my goal, so I stop, hoping to take up the slack the following day. Writing fast and making changes in the second draft seems to work for most successful writers.

Negative beliefs can be damaging as well as paralyzing, resulting in long term writer’s block. But how do you pull yourself out of writer’s depression? Lawrence Block recommends putting your negative thoughts on paper. When you read them, tell yourself they’re all LIES. Rejection won’t destroy you, he said. “Nobody ever died of a rejection slip, and nobody every succeeded without accumulating plenty of them along the way."

About the author:
Jean Henry Mead is a mystery/suspense and western historical novelist. She's also an award-winning photojournalist. One of her fortes is interviewing writers, actors, politicians, artists and ordinary people who have accomplished extraordinary things. She began her writing career as a California news reporter/editor/photographer, first in Central California and San Diego. Mead later transferred to Casper, Wyoming, to serve as a staff writer for the statewide newspaper. She also served as editor of In Wyoming Magazine and two small presses. She has freelanced for other publications, both domestically and abroad, among them the Denver Post's Empire Magazine. Her first book was published in 1982. She's since published fourteen novels and nonfiction books.

Learn more about Mead at

Blog sites:
Mysterious Writers:
Writers of the West:
Murderous Musings:
Make Mine Mystery:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Lights, Camera...!

copyright 2011 Ron Adams

So a week or two ago I was thinking about casting the movie as a way to visualize your characters, to make the more real and to “see” the action as you write. There are certain characters that I associate with certain actors already, such as Spenser always being Robert Urich and Hawk always being Avery Brooks. I can’t imagine Philip Marlowe as anyone but Humphrey Bogard. I’m having a little trouble with Kathryn Heigl as Stephanie Plum, but I’m going in with an open mind.

I’ve thought about it, and I thought I would throw it out to you, Gentle Readers. Who are your favorite characters, and who would play them in the movie version of your favorite mysteries? Let me offer my humble suggestions as follows:

From Key Lime Squeeze, Donnie Wahlberg as Joe Banks, Vin Diesel as Solomon, and Joe Pantoliano as Paul Cantolino. I would cast Harrison Ford as David Baldacci’s Oliver Stone, and someone like Jeff Goldblum as Harlen Coben’s Myron Bolitar. I think you get the idea. Let your imaginations run wild. I can’t wait to see who everyone comes up with.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A quick hello

Hi, folks!

Just a quick note to say hello. Sunday is normally my post day, but we've had a fairly decent weekend for the first time in many moons, so I've been outside planting, rototilling, weeding, mowing, and more from 5:30 in the morning 'til I can't see any more. Rain is threatening again now, so we're in for a little break.

I've had help from my little buddies this weekend - Julian and Gordon. Just thought you'd get a kick out of one of the videos I took of Gordie when he was two - he LOVED to plant then, and planted all day yesterday. So much fun.

Enjoy your Sunday and happy writing!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Write Like the Wind, Edit Like an Architect!

copyright 2011 Natalie Neal Whitefield

When my own children were young, I delighted in finding books for them that were rich in content; I had no difficulty finding any number of delightful offerings until they reached the 8-to-14 year old range. At that point finding suitable literature was a struggle. So my children and I would write our own stories to fill the gap.

After that, of course, JK Rowling changed young adult fiction forever.

I see that niche opening up again. I could be wrong, but it seems Harry Potter and his friends are no longer front and center in this market. I think Young Adult Fiction is ready for something different. Something new, like the series my friend Aaron Lazar is currently writing.

I very much appreciate being given the opportunity to look closely at the first chapters of the first in this series. It’s been a valuable experience for me. Although I have edited articles and stories for magazines and for a small town newspaper, I’ve never worked for a publishing house, and would not pretend to be an experienced editor of young adult fiction. On the other hand, Aaron is a published author. He’s worked with many talented people in the publishing business, and has had the benefit of editorial assistance for copyediting and line editing and final approval of his manuscripts from seasoned professionals. My assessment of the first two chapters of his book is just one person’s opinion, my spontaneous first impressions, which may or may not be helpful to him.

However, Aaron is always helpful to me. What I’ve loved most about Aaron’s writing over the years is captured in a phrase he often uses when writing articles about writing. He so often encourages us to: “Write like the wind!” That phrase captures exactly what happens when we give ourselves complete permission to participate in the creative process.

Thoughts, feelings, and actions spin out upon the page in a vigorous whirl like leaves, swirling in the air, settling in golden glory on the ground. In the very same way, words seem to flow uninterrupted from the source of creativity within the right side of the brain just as art and nature flow uninterrupted from the source of all things.

Our job simply is to do as Aaron says, “Write like the wind.”

The result of this unimpeded way of expressing ideas is a beautiful chaotic passionate pattern of words upon a blank white page. We have not interfered with the flow of creative expression in any way. Instead, we create a treasure trove of ideas and images from which to structure our final story.

Ah, but how to put these precious impressions in order. Now comes the time many of us dread, the rearrangement of ideas from which a final story structure must emerge. It is time for the editing process to begin.

Now we are called upon to switch from using the right side of the brain, the writer’s creative side, to the left side of the brain, our analytical side.

We’ve been enjoying the freedom of writing like the wind; now we often reluctantly begin the discipline of what I like to call, editing like an architect. Where once we were passionate, exuberant and self-expressive, we become cerebral, exacting and controlled.

What a challenge that is.

If we’re writing like the wind, we’re comfortable. For most of us that’s a natural, comfortable way to express ourselves; comfortable is where we most want to be.

Editing like an architect requires the opposite skill set from the one we’ve been using.  The tendency is always to want to go back to that comfortable place. The temptation is to start trying to be creative at the very time we are required to be analytical. That approach simply doesn’t work. We become frustrated. We wonder why we feel uncomfortable.

Neurologically, it’s impossible to use both sides of the brain at the same time; to try to do so causes strain; when we experience conflict and strain our brains shut down. Writer’s block, anyone?

I shall always be grateful to a senior editor at a local newspaper who gave me this piece of kindly advice: Never try to write and edit at the same time.

Many people argue for a continuation of creative free thought and personal expression, during the editorial process. My fellow journalists have always cautioned against this approach. The old hands taught us cubs to know the rules and how to apply them. There are, of course, very few rules for writing; however, there are plenty of rules for editing. Some writers look for creative ways to bend the rules in order to effect innovative change. I have nothing against innovation or change as long as what one is doing strengthens the work, but just as an architect must obtain a waiver if he wishes to use a new building technique that may be in conflict with an existing building code, it is always better to use the tried and true rules of the craft before attempting to break them.

To create an engaging story, I enthusiastically follow my friend Aaron Lazar’s advice to “Write like the wind.” But when engaged in constructing a strong story from all the passionate expressions I’ve scattered upon a page, I hearken back to advice received from crusty old salts in our weekly newspaper’s back room: “Edit like an architect!”  Surely everything else follows.


Natalie Neal Whitefield lives and works in the rugged mountains of central Idaho. While writing her Rocky Mountain Trilogy, she discovered that not only did she have a family story worth telling, but that all families have powerful stories to tell. Currently she acts as an advisor to ranch families and pioneer families in the preparation of their unique family histories. She facilitates the creation of memoirs, magazine articles, family reunion presentations, corporate history projects and film documentary materials.

Join her online on Gather:
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Writing Comedy is Serious Business

© Heather Haven 2011 all rights reserved

In my far-off youth and for as long as I can remember, lurked inside me the heart of a comedy writer. I wanted nothing more than to be writing funny quips for people, like Woody Allen did for Sid Caesar on Your Show of Shows, back in the fifties. Just to make it clear, I wasn’t nearly as impressed by Allen’s fore into his own comedy shows, record albums, films, and even less impressed with his romantic encounters. What got me where I live was him writing words for performers that made an audience laugh. I couldn’t imagine a greater existence.

One of my very first jobs as a writer in New York City was writing for No Soap Radio. As the name implies, we wrote funny ads and commercials for radio, had a ball and got paid a weekly salary! Does it get any better than that? Of course, the weekly stipend was so little I often had to decide if I would pay my rent or the phone bill, but by golly, I was a comedy writer. It was a short-lived chapter of my life, maybe a little more than a year, but the things I learned within that group have held fast for the rest of my writing life.

The art of comedy is serious business and you’d better know your business. You’d better know timing, delivery, and what the funny words are. By funny words – and most people don’t think about this – these are words that automatically cause people to smile or chortle. For instance:

Orange? Not so funny. Kumquat. Funny.

Move? Not so funny. Jiggle. Funnier.

Glasses? Not so funny. Spectacles. Funny. Or maybe more funny. Wait a minute. Maybe not so funny.

Testicles? Whoa. Never mind. But in comedy, expect the unexpected. It often gets a laugh.

But back to words, if you don’t have the words in the right order, with the right rhythm and cadence, it’s probably not going to work. I’ve known comics to work on a one-line joke for weeks until they get it right.

Speaking of comics, have you noticed they often talk in violent or military terms? “I slaughtered ‘em last night,” “Man, that audience was murder,” “Go out and kill ‘em, pal,” phrases like that.

There’s a reason for it. If you don’t get that laugh, you might as well be dead. Comics are very serious about their laughs. Same with authors who write a funny mystery series. That corpse better be laughing while he’s falling to the ground. Otherwise, I don’t sleep so good at night.

About the author:Heather Haven’s novel, MURDER IS A FAMILY BUSINESS, the first in the Alvarez Murder Mystery series, was epublished by MuseItUp Publishing in January, 2011 and is now out in print. The second in the series, A WEDDING TO DIE FOR, debuted April 22nd, 2011. She is currently editing the 3rd of the series, and says they are a joy to write. Heather gets to be all the characters, including the cat!
Follow Heather's blog at:
MURDER IS A FAMILY BUSINESS Youtube book trailer

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Writing From the Heart

Hi, folks.

I've been on vacation for a week and completely out of touch (no Internet), so I thought I'd repost an article I wrote back in 2007. Although some of these themes have resurfaced in the past few years (my wife's MS and my mother-in-law's heart condition), this week (knock on wood), all is relatively quiet. The basic idea to share here is that writing is wonderful and effective therapy - I'm sure you can all relate!


copyright 2011 aaron paul lazar

Good morning friends and writers,

My life has been replete with one-two punches. Actually, it's usually one-two-three. You know the old saying, "trouble comes in threes?" Well,  sometimes I'm relieved when it stops at three!

It's par for the course, as I'm sure it is in your lives, as well. This week was no exception - but it sure was a rough one. And I was reminded of the power of writing as therapy and distraction. Such a wonder. And I thanked God for it, once again.

It started out with my wife's MS. Another exacerbation, a really bad one this time. Mind you, she hadn't suffered massive flareups except a few times a year for the past ten. The Avonex was working, doing its job of reducing the severity and frequency of exacerbations. But over the past year they have come closer together and with increased intensity. New symptoms, both mental and physical, have plagued her until it seems as if there is never going to be a reprieve.

So, the wintry week started out with the knowledge that we're going to have to change therapies. There are three current interferon type treatments used now, and we're going to switch to another called Copaxone. It requires one shot a day, as opposed to the weekly Avonex shot, but if it helps, it'll be worth it.

You'd think this would be a simple thing, right?

After three days of playing telephone tag, we finally connected with the doctor, and discovered we have to fill out a form (paper form, not even online), mail it in, and get "registered." What? Yes, registered to use this new treatment. Then a nurse has to come to the house to retrain her on the injections, even though she was already trained.

Okay, so we took yet another deep breath and prepared to wait.

Then the phone died.

Both the downstairs and upstairs. And I couldn't find my glasses to try to figure out what tiny little wires had come undone. We switched over to our cell phones, because what happened next made the week's usual troubles pale in comparison.

My mother-in-law, who lives in an addition on our home, is a sweet and loving woman. I adore her, she is a blessing to our home, and she drives my wife and daughter everywhere, helping me stay at work (an hour away) for the more mundane local appointments, etc. Apparently the day before Thanksgiving, when she was expecting her son and his family to arrive any minute, she felt some pain in her chest. And it rose to her jaw a bit. And her arms hurt a little.


Yup. The alarm bells are ringing now, aren't they? Call 911!

She didn't. She thought it was probably heart burn, and let it go. And she's an old Yankee stoic who avoids the doctors at all costs and doesn't even like to take an Advil if she can tough out the pain.

Then it happened a few more times. After Thanksgiving. She felt so tired, but couldn't figure it out. Must be that darned anemia. Must eat more meat, she thought.

When I got wind of this I told her she needed to be seen immediately. She promised, and the next day they discovered she'd had a heart attack. Or two. Or three.

We rushed her to the ER, a battery of tests were run, and it was determined that she needed an angiogram. Probably had a blockage in one of her arteries.

By the way, when all this was happening, our microwave died and the water well pump switch kept misbehaving. The kindly repair man from down the street (bless his heart, he's 88 years old and still working!), tried to fix it a few times and ordered us a whole new tank and pump, since the old one was ready to go. So during this whole week we either had no water, or had to run down cellar to reset the switch. Mind you, when my wife's MS is bad, she can't walk reliably.

I spent the evening with my mother-in-law at the hospital, while they stabilized her and prepped her for the angiogram by thinning her blood. Which caused uncontrollable bodily functions I won't detail here, but that humiliated the poor dear. She is a very private person. I helped her through it, and she got through the night.

The next day, after much waiting, they transported her via ambulance to one of the best heart hospitals in the country, Rochester General. Within an hour of her arrival, she was in the cath lab and on the table.

Mind you, the cardiologist told us ahead of time that she would likely need a stent and angioplasty. But there was a slight chance that she'd need open heart surgery. The expectation was that the procedure should take no more than 45 minutes and that we'd know within the hour.

My poor wife stayed home to worry (she couldn't walk) and I waited with my laptop and cell phone, trying to keep my wife's two brothers (who lived far away), my three daughters, and my wife appraised of the situation. It was a cell phone nightmare, but surprisingly, my battery held up and that part actually functioned.

Thank God for my laptop. I'd been alternating between reading Dean Koontz's Brother Odd (such an inspiration to all writers!) and working on my twelfth book during the long waits by her bedside. But now I needed it more than ever. This was the turning point. I knew the risks were high for an elderly woman in her eighties. And what if...

I did okay for the first forty-five minutes.

I wrote two chapters, blinded myself to my swelling fears and allowed myself to be taken into Sam Moore's life. Poor Sam. He'd lost a loved one and was traveling back in time through the power of the green marble to try to fix it.

I kept thinking how I'd fix things if I'd had the chance. Would've got her to the hospital sooner had I known. Would've taken her right up to this hospital yesterday, had I known. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. You know the thoughts.

An hour passed and I started to panic. An hour and a half. The cell phone they'd assigned to me didn't ring. I kept checking it to see if it was dead. Hoping she hadn't had a sudden complication. Wondering how they'd tell me if she did. Would a doctor come out, instead of calling?

I plunged back into my story, wrote what felt like good stuff, once again amazed at the therapeutic powers of the process. Somewhat distracted and able to breathe, I kept going and punched out another chapter. Life and death dramas occurred around me in that waiting room, and each time a family's cell phone rang, we all jumped.

After almost two hours, the phone rang. The nurse asked if the doctor had called me yet, and was suddenly full of apologies because he had forgotten me. My mother-in-law was fine. The doctor called and said that she'd been about to have a massive attack. Two arteries were blocked 80 and 90%. But they'd successfully cleaned them out and successfully put a stent in one.

I brought her home yesterday in a raging snowstorm, but she's resting comfortably in her own bed. Winter is definitely here now, which is okay by me.  And we're so grateful for this early Christmas present. We still have our dear lady, and it looks like she's going to be just fine.

The new pump is in, but we still have no water, and we're starting to run out of the supply in the tub that we use to flush the toilets. Our kindly repair man was here until 8:00 last night, trying to figure out an unexpected new problem. I sent him home and told him to get some rest, that things would seem clearer in the morning.

Regardless, the mechanical problems will resolve eventually, and life will go on. And maybe we'll be able to think about putting up our Christmas lights this weekend. ;o)

I think I'll go write a chapter. I need another dose of therapy.

Remember, for those of you who love to write - write like the wind!

Blessings to all,

Aaron Paul Lazar

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nook or Book?

copyright 2011, Marcia Applegate  
I had an interesting conversation the other day in my doctor’s office for a routine physical. While the nurse was doing the usual pre-exam tests, she saw my Nook sticking out of my bag. She asked me how I liked it. “I love it,” I said. She asked me why, but before I could go into any detail, she said, “I have friends who have those things, but give me a real book anytime.” I’ll give you more of a rundown on our conversation in a moment, because it reflects so clearly the different ways readers react to the idea of using a modern technological gizmo to do something as ancient and traditional as reading. But I want to set the stage first. 
Let’s go back some 20 or so years. Taking a lunch break, I looked through the several books in my desk drawer, grabbed a paperback copy of John Grisham’s latest, and headed off to a cafe near my office building in downtown Chicago. I got my tray of food and as I trolled for an open table, I noted several people reading the same Grisham book. We smiled at one another, we were co-conspirators in the same mystery.
Now let’s fast forward to just the other day, when I was at my gym for my thrice-weekly workout. I climbed on one of the elliptical striders, selected a program and opened up my Nook. As I settled in for my hour-or-so workout, the man on the machine next to me tapped me on the shoulder and, grinning, held up his e-reader, a Kindle. We chatted for a moment or two and he told me his wife had an Ipad which she sometimes used to read books. 
The point of my two little scenarios here is obvious. Times change. Things that seem unchangeable change. Twenty years ago I had never heard of an e-reader. If someone had suggested pleasure reading in some form other than books or magazines, I would have thought of it as something as futuristic as cars that drive themselves. In some ways, I am a techno-Luddite and I’m not ashamed to admit it.
Yet, here I am today, doing much of my pleasure reading on my Nook, which is undeniably not something a Luddite would do. One of the major advantages of a e-reader such as the Nook is its portability.  Right now, I’m reading an Elizabeth George multi-multi-multi-page mystery, along with “The Autobiography of Mark Twain,” and the first part of a historical trilogy about Theodore Roosevelt. 
If I were to carry just these three books, the Roosevelt, the Mark Twain and the George, each one of which is individually heavy, I’d need a cart and a horse. The Nook could carry practically my entire library, if I chose to do that. Any e-reader will hold innumerable books, although I suppose there is variation among brand. I know only about my particular e-reader. At the same time, though, I have in my study where I do my writing several loaded bookshelves, and books stashed on whatever flat surface is available. My study shelves are where I keep reference and technical books of all sorts, the living room bookcases are stuffed with fiction, history, current events, political commentary. And both sets of shelves have that oh-so-useful category of miscellaneous.
I tell you that because, while writing this post and other posts, I went to those bookshelves many times. I use the Internet a great deal for reference, but print books get a lot of use as well. I guess maybe I should call myself a lapsed Luddite; I do use technology for many things, this blog is a classic example, although I’m not an early adopter. Look for me after everybody else has worked the bugs out. 
Nor am I comfortable with technology as are younger folks who have grown up with it. They have a frame of reference completely different from mine. Most youngsters can’t remember writing by hand, copying with a mimeograph, using a manual typewriter (with at least one key that always stuck), giving the operator the phone number, depositing money by going to the bank, paying bills by check through the mail–those are just some of the entire range of “technology” that we older folk thought of as state of the art. 
Now to get back to my conversation with the nurse about e-readers vs print books. She has, she told me, resisted letting her husband get her an e-reader as he wants to do. Her reasons for preferring books make good sense, are true and are probably shared by every book lover, me included. “Books,” she said, “have a special smell. When they’re new, they smell new and they feel new. When they’re old, they smell musty and have a crinkly, worn feel. I love to sit down in my chair, get some coffee and just read and read.”
Then waving her hands in a way that I could instantly identify as turning a page, she went on, “Books feel good in my hands, although the heavy ones are hard to read in bed. Turning the pages helps me know I’m moving along. And they look good on the shelves. They feel homey, sort of.” Then she detailed some negatives the about books. “When I got married and moved I had to get rid of a whole bunch of them. You have to carry them off, give them away to the library or somewhere. But I’m sticking with books.” 
And there is where I come in. I’m sticking with books, too. Never would I even consider eliminating paper books from my life. Because I love them. They have been my friends ever since I learned to read, and will continue as friends for the rest of my life.
But I love my Nook, too.

Blogs as Tweets as!/meladolce
Retired communications/media consultant, columnist
For fun stuff--reading (and writing) mysteries, mainstream
Studying Italian, loves music, husband, family, two cats
E-books, blogging, brand-new IPad; now that’s fun!


Note: Marcia, I'm on vacation this week, but wanted to welcome you to MB4 today! Thanks so much for this insightful and entertaining piece! We must stay in touch, and hope you'll be back to post for us again. ;o)  Aaron

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

To Blog or Not To Blog

© Marta Stephens 2011 all rights reserved

I’ve often thought about what it must have been like to write in an age without computers. The endless hours of rewrites at a Royal manual, ugh! And where would we be without the Internet? How would we connect with readers and contacts around the world, do our research, or Map Quest the location of our next novel for that satellite visuals? Is it any wonder a writer’s life was thought to be a lonely existence? My first e-mail account was issued to me by my employer in the mid to late 1990’s and I remember wondering what in the world I’d do with it. That was then and this is now, an age where we have every imaginable communication device at our finger tips.

Over the past ten years or so, however, there’s been a huge transformation in cyber networks. Nine to ten years ago the places for any aspiring author to be were in one or more writers’ forums. I met several of my best writing friends in a few of those. Some were just starting to write and had the same questions and insecurities that I had. Others were light years ahead of us and we hung on every word they posted. Those were the day when I couldn’t wait to log in and be inspired.

Then came the ever popular Yahoo groups. Now writers had endless choices between online social forums, crit groups, discussion platforms, and chat rooms. Ning groups came along around 2007 (give or take) and I loved them. They were user friendly and allowed the member to create his/her own page and keep track of posts written by friends and colleagues. That’s when networking really began to boom for me. By then I had joined a combination of forums, Yahoo and Ning groups that totaled well over 40 and yet I continued to join other groups such as Gather and Backspace.

These sites helped us get out of that lonely existence, meet readers and writers, and get involved in stimulating conversations. Those were wonderful times for those of us just starting out and in the midst of all the activity, I continued to post to my blogs, follow other writers’ blogs, and was eager to participate in chats.

Now the latest rages are Facebook and Twitter. Where’s that leave the writer’s blog? Do readers still follow them? Do they offer the same exposure to writers they once used to? For me it’s a balancing act. When I’m blogging or surfing the net, I’m not writing and thus as my writing became more prominent in my life I had to cut down on the amount of time I spent at each of the groups—some I simply had to drop. My writing has now taken a sudden upswing turn again and I find I have even less time to spend online. In fact, there have been countless days in the past several months that I only glance at my e-mails when I get home from work, read the critical e-mails, delete the junk, and then shut off the Internet.

The Internet has turned into a double edge sword. As a writer with the hopes of two new books in the works, time is a precious commodity and yet I know I must keep up with my networks in order to self-promote. That is my current dilemma. Hmmm, maybe there is something to that solitary writing life.

About the author:

Marta Stephens writes mystery/suspense.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT (2008), Bronze Medal Finalist, 2009 IPPY Awards, Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

SILENCED CRY (2007) Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery).

Her books are available in paperback and most electronic format. Find them online at , Amazons, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-a-Million. For more information about Stephens and her writing, visit

Monday, May 9, 2011

MB4 May Critique - Pattie Bittel, novel excerpt



“Stop.” The woman’s voice was a flashbang[AL1] , percussive in the silence of the lab.
He knew that voice. All too well. He whirled to face her, his palm sweaty against the warm metal of his knife. He watched as he took a step backwards, then one more. He searched her eyes but could not find her fear[AL2] .
Suddenly she lashed out with her foot, kicking high and cross-wise, knocking the knife out of his hand. It skittered all the way across the room and bounced against the wall. Neither spoke as the white velvet silence[AL3]  gathered around them. He edged left, trying to get closer to the knife, but she circled around him and blocked. Then he rushed at her, slamming her against the wall. She rammed her weight against him, hard, but he only wobbled before pinning her and fixing his hands around her throat. She kicked at his shins and tried to knee him, but he arched away while squeezing down on her neck. He pressed in, crushing his fingers against the resistant cartilage, watching her face turn bluish, her eyes bulge, her chest contract in fruitless, spastic attempts to suck air. He couldn’t watch; his eyes averted to stare at his unfamiliar fingers squeezing down. Finally he felt her strength fade and loosened his grip. When she went limp, he let go and watched her crumble to the floor. He wiped his hands against his jacket and bit his lip. It shouldn’t have come to this[AL4] 

The aqua highlights were marked by Kim Smith - these might well be omitted to strengthen the prose. 



Hong had never stolen anything before, not so much as a pencil. But here he was, about to pirate a secret that threatened life itself. And that was the other irony; his intent had been to protect life[AL5] .
He shoved his hands deep into his pants pockets as if he could bury his quandary there. Through the plate glass window he could see the laboratory mice convulsing in pools of their own blood. Dr. Dan Humphries might be a brilliant virologist, but he had created the very antithesis of his goal; instead of discovering a new way to inoculate against disease, he had opened the door to a horrifying plague. And that left Hong with the most difficult of choices. He ran a hand through his limp hair and blinked.
The sour thing in his stomach had turned lumpy, curdling. It’s not quite so simple, he thought; he could not let his personal feelings stifle the opportunity that lay convulsing before him. He turned away from the mice and glanced out the front window; small droplets from a misting London rain clung to tiny, hard buds[AL6] . You have to move on in life, sometimes into uncomfortable or unexpected directions, he told himself[AL7] .

 [AL1]great opener. Love the new verb “flashbang.” It’s perfect, it describes exactly what you intended.
[AL4]Very powerful scene. Great description, Pattie.

 [AL5]nice contrast.
 [AL6]From Kim Smith: “tiny, hard buds of what?” Can you expand the setting?
[AL7]Pattie, this is very tightly written. Super [AL7]!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Getting a "Do-over"

copyright 2011, Aaron Paul Lazar

How many of you have written a novel or two long ago, got them published, and wish now that with all the skills you've accumulated  over the years you could write them over again?

Maybe the stories are great and the characters are memorable, but you just wish you could get rid of all those extra words you didn't need, do more showing instead of telling, and spice up the dialogue?

I can hardly believe it, but I'm actually getting the chance for a do-over! Two do-overs, to be precise. My current publisher, Twilight Times Books, has regained the rights to both early books. We're polishing the manuscripts, redesigning the covers, and releasing them next year in eBook and print versions.

My first books (Double Forte' and Upstaged) came out in 2005 and 2006. Even to this day they are well-received by my readers. But to me, they stink. They reek. They are just awful.

It's not so much the stories, mind you. Those seem okay. And the characters are good, I think, except I want to give a little more attitude to my protag in the first book. And I know I'm being a little hard on myself, because the average reader still comes back to me and raves about how they "couldn't put it down." Happened to me just yesterday, actually.

But in my writer's head, from the perspective of a professional, I know they are far from perfect and that lots of hacking is required.

Well, heck. After you've written fifteen books, you'd best have learned some good tricks along the way, right?

So this week I've been getting re-aquainted with my old writing style, cleaning it up by deleting lots of unnecessary explanation, phrases, etc. I'm brightening up the dialog to sound more natural, getting rid of most dialog tags, and taking out the superfluous adverbs.

Damn, it feels good. :o)

I'll be on vacation when this comes out on MB4, off in the Adirondacks where my new Tall Pines series was born. So thanks in advance for your comments. I'll actually be at the Tall Pines cabin on the Sacandaga River, tell the truth. I can't wait. And I'm a little afraid I'll be tempted to give up this do-over in favor of starting a third book in the Tall Pines series. The environment there is just too evocative of mysteries... I can't seem to help myself.

So, enjoy your week. Hope all the Mother's in our readership (plus Marta, Kim, and Mrs. Ron Adams) have a wonderful Mother's Day!!

Remember, if you love to write... write like the wind!

Aaron Paul Lazar

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Author of the Month, John Grisham

John Grisham is one of my favorite authors, and not just because he was born and raised in my favorite city. In fact, if truth be told, I went to high school with his baby brother, although we did not have any sort of connection.

But it is not John Grisham’s good old boy affiliation that has me devouring his books; rather it is his ability to world-build, pull me in, hook, line and sinker. For me, that is a sure sign of a good author. Ever since The Firm came out, I have been his fan. I ravaged Pelican Brief, A Time to Kill, and The Client, and enjoyed A Painted House the most. Why? Well, *small smile* my son who is an actor had a speaking role in the Lifetime movie!

Yes, his books made into movies have been shot in my hometown, and yes, that has a little to do with it, because who doesn’t want to see familiar places (and loved faces!) on the silver screen? But mostly, his word choice that makes me feel like I am there in his setting.

All in all, the realism placed in his books is what usually does it for me. I read to be taken away from my reality and put into someone else’s. He manages to do that and he does it so well he has elicited a lot of emotional response from readers.

In the end, plotlines that work, characters that grow larger than life, and the ease of stories being transferred to movies all work together to create (for me) an author to adore.

You can find out more about Mr. Grisham and his books here and they are readily available at all the usual haunts.

Tidbit: He usually signs his first editions at a little bookstore in Oxford, Mississippi (Home of Faulkner) where my daughter works.

See? My love for all things books and Grisham is being handed down!

Friday, May 6, 2011

“I’ve Got This Great Idea for A Book…”

© Nathan Weaver 2011 all rights reserved

So you’ve got a great idea for a book, right? But maybe you’re like me and you’ve mostly written short stories so far, and you’re not sure how to tackle the daunting task? Or maybe you haven’t written anything since that Valentine’s Day card you gave Sally Pinkerton back in the third grade? How in the world are you going to tell this amazing story that everybody needs to read? And how are you going to get it published and in their hands?

First things first, you will need to write.

You’ve read all these amazing books about how to write a novel, and they all talk about outlines and such. So you’re now convinced you have to outline the beast that is your novel. Ten years later, you’ve got an outline and no book, now what? And now it’s been thirty years since Sally Pinkerton discarded your Valentine’s Day card, so what’s to say you can even write this story? I mean seriously, you’ve spent the last ten years outlining an amazing story, but you haven’t written a scrap of narrative in that time. What, did you think you were Shakespeare or something? The worst thing you can do is take your writing for granted and only work on the outline. You have to practice.

Some handy advice. Write some short stories or excerpts from your novel while you are developing your outline. Just some short, to the point stories that you can write in a couple of hours. And really examine those stories, try to identify your weaknesses and strengths. And get someone to critique these as well. What you’ll find is that writing is like a child, as it ages it matures.

I don’t want to write an outline, I want to write a novel.

I know! I don’t want to write outlines either, I hate those things. But let’s face it, it’s good to plan. Because if you don’t, what you’ll find is that your story isn’t nearly long enough to be considered a legitimate novel. A novel is a lot of words, a lot of pages, and a lot of work. Before you begin writing your novel, make sure you’ve got enough story to fill that book. Nobody likes buying a bag of chips that’s half full, and the same is true of a book.

I didn’t appreciate the outline until I drew the comparison between it and the storyboard. Alfred Hitchcock had once stated that once you’ve drawn up the storyboard for a film, the movie was made and all that was left was to film it. This is the same with the outline. You flesh out your story, and tell it in the outline, and then all that is left is to write it.

Make it fit you. Since I don’t like to over think my stories too much before I write them, I outline by using a simple spreadsheet form. I stole this basic spreadsheet idea from British author Neal James, and it works well. I flesh the outline out by writing a short summary for each chapter, and then assigning a minimum word count. What happens is your outline is just a fill in the blank sheet that you can use for all stories, no matter the length, and it leaves a lot of room for impromptu imagination during the writing process. But the important thing is that the story is there, and it’s long enough to meet the desired goal. Check out this free example I’ve made for sharing.

Giving Sally Pinkerton some credibility.

If you’re like me, sometimes the narrative voice doesn’t come immediate for a story. Sometimes you start writing your book, and realize maybe Sally Pinkerton had good cause to throw away the card you gave her? But before you get over Sally Pinkerton, and take down that morbid shrine in your closet, take the following into consideration.

Take a break. Set the story aside, and don’t write it on it for six months or so. This should be ample time for you to forget what you wrote. In that time, try to think of a few things that might rejuvenate your story. Something that might give it an extra boast of confidence. For example, I started writing THE RED BALLOON about two years ago, but failed miserably. It was horribly contrived, and I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to end up with the story. So I set it aside, and didn’t come back to the story until recently, and by the time I did I had developed a new, solid ending that gave the story more drive and helped me focus in on how I wanted this story to be told. With this new, fresh perspective I started writing it again and after I had written passed where I had left off previously, I checked my old draft to see if there were a few sentences of narrative I wanted to keep. The result was a far better narrative, a superior story to the previous version and an inflated ego.

Try different tenses and perspectives. I started writing JASON RICHARD WRIGHT, a novella about a serial killer, and it didn’t take me long to realize my decision to write it in first-person perspective was destroying the goal of the story. So I backed off of it for a while (previous step), and started over some time later writing in third-person perspective. What I found was a far better story, that was a lot easier to follow and relate to. Sometimes your narrative can lack the kick you want, because you honed in on the wrong perspective or tense to tell the story. Experiment and see which one works best.

I finally finished this awesome book, now what?

Draft up a query letter, synopsis, and create a short portfolio for your book. Include the query letter, synopsis and some excerpts. I hate this part myself, as I’m sure all writers do. But if you can just sit down one day and force yourself through it, using some examples you can conjure up from the web (Google rules), then you’ll get it together. And then start contacting the usual suspects: literary agents, publishers, etc.

This is usually when those old feelings about Sally Pinkerton start coming back from the cosmos of your abdomen. As the rejection letters pour in like Dear John letters, don’t lose fate. You have to keep in mind that the Sally Pinkertons of this world feed off your pain, so don’t give up. There are so many other fish in the sea with different names,; like Kelly, Tammy, and Robert. You’ll show Sally Pinkerton. Once you become a famous author, she’ll see your face on TV and kick herself for not keeping that heartfelt card you wrote up for her, so she could redeem its worth on eBay.

Exercise the demons. Take those rejection letters and keep them somewhere safe. Maybe renovate your closet, add some more square footage and build a bigger shrine for the Sally Pinkertons. If the rejection letters make some legitimate critiques and give you some solid advice, then take those and use them for your next proposal. If you receive some useful advice about your book, do some revisions of your book. And when there are things that cut deep, keep those close so someday you can say, “I’d like to thank Sally Pinkerton for giving me the strength to persevere, and I am so happy my book Stranger than Stupid is an international best-seller.” When Julie Andrews was accepting her Oscar for Mary Poppins, she thanked the guys who did NOT cast her as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, after she had already popularized the role on Broadway alongside Rex Harrison. Had those Hollywood executives not come to the conclusion that Julie Andrews would not translate well on film, she would not have won the Oscar for Mary Poppins. Thank goodness Walt Disney sought her out and took a chance on her. And some day, if you persevere, someone will take a chance on you.

Sally Pinkerton was a moron.

Whether you’re looking to get picked up or you are sufficed being independent, using the eBook revolution to self-publish, you are going to meet many Sally Pinkertons. There will always be those who hate your work, who read it and tear it to shreds. But if you are truly telling good stories, and writing solid characters, people will see that despite what any Sally Pinkerton may say. Sally Pinkertons are a dime a dozen, just like the comments on a YouTube video that demand their thirty seconds of life back. Just keep on trucking, and eventually you’ll find your readers, even if they didn’t know you were looking for them. One day you’ll walk into a room, and you’ll see her, and she’ll see you, and you’ll both just know... you know?

About the author:
Nathan Weaver is a husband and father, Video Production Specialist at Missouri S&T, lyricist for Blue Solace, independent filmmaker, and writer too. He's been writing since childhood, but not well until later years. He despises having to write blurbs about himself, and it never helps when it's in third-person. Most of his works in "written form" are usually crime, mystery or horror and often obtain elements of fantasy or science fiction. When writing screenplays or plays, he delves more into comedy but finds it difficult to write humour in short story or novel form.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Writing Emotions

image courtesy Kim Smith
Have you ever had to write a scene where your character was despicably hateful? What did you use to describe hate? How about joy? Indescribably joyfulness is hard to do too.

In fact, writing emotion is hard no matter what particular feeling it is. I thiink, in this instance of writing, the devil is in the details.

What makes you feel a character's anger? Is it that clenched fist? Or is it the red face? Well, before you get too carried away, remember that cliches are worst than telling the emotion to the reader.

For some reason, cliched writing goes hand-in-hand with emotions. Here are a few: red-faced with anger, saw red, heart pounding with rage, clenched fist, giddy with happiness, satisfied sigh, green with envy.

Well, that's just for starters, I am sure you have your own list.

But when you write emotional scenes be sure to make the reader a part of the wallpaper. We want to be in the midst of the matter. Get us emotionally involved and we will stay forever.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Boring! Boring!

copyright 2011 Ron Adams
We all know, if you’ve been doing this long enough, that writing is a very subjective
business. Everyone has different tastes, so how do we keep from being boring to
the readers? One really good way to avoid being dull in your writing is to find
what works in your particular genre, or even with your own favorite authors,
and try to incorporate that into your stories. What is selling in your genre,
and why? You can learn from the acknowledged masters in the field, taking from
them the elements that make their stories entertaining to you. For me, I am a
big fan of dialogue, so I am constantly reading authors whom I feel do the best
job of pushing the story along through the verbal interactions of the
characters. You can still create your own characters, settings and plot, but
use the devices of your favorite authors to make the story more universally

It is also true that if you are bored writing, someone else will be bored reading. I suggest you learn all you can about creating tension and conflict, when and where to use action and comedy. Never forget that if the scene you’re working on doesn’t move the story forward, no matter how cleverly written, your readers will glaze over and react negatively to the whole story. Stay focused on what makes the story
interesting to you, and keep your reader, your target audience, first and foremost in your mind. Remember the words of Alfred Hitchcock, who accurately described the art of storytelling, “Drama is real life, with the dull parts left out.”

Monday, May 2, 2011

Responsible Publishing Leads to Breakout Success

copyright Vincent Zandri

A lot of my peeps have been chiming in asking me what it feels like to be selling a whole bunch of Kindle E-Books these days on Amazon. Like thousands, per day. No kidding. That ain't no typo. Not bad numbers for a former construction worker. Go figure! (Me, shaking my head in disbelief, but also looking up to the heavens with gratitude!)

But the truth is, I'm not entirely sure how to feel about it. Currently I'm the number 4 overall bestselling Kindle and have been as high as number 3. Two of the three authors above me are propped up by major motion pictures (Hope I get a move produced one day!). Since the middle of March I have moved around 60,000 units of The Innocent, and Godchild has now been in the Top 100 Kindle E-books for two weeks.

But back to how I feel about it.

I feel great, naturally. Who wouldn't feel great. It's cool to be popular. I thought there might be some talk about the pricing, but the sale price of a buck is only temporary and my other books, like The Remains, that are priced at the normal $2.99 are selling in the low hundreds. Even the $9.00 Moonlight Falls has gained something like 200% in the rankings and is holding steady, if not slowly gaining more ground, which tells me a lot of my fans are willing to pay an extra few dollars for my brand of "quality" thriller and mystery (Thank you!!!).

So, the question still persists: How do I feel?

First of all, I am honored that I am earning ("earning" being the keyword here) a fan base that is willing to support my work, and enjoy it. I owe you not only a lot, but I owe you everything. And in return I will keep putting out very good books. I will write to the best of my ability everyday. But second of all, I am being cautious. Cautious because I've been to the show once before with the majors and realized that success in this business can be volatile to say the least.

However, my success now is notably different than before.

My association and "success" with the big guys in new York was initially measured by one thing and one thing only: The size of the advance. Back in '99 I received a quarter of a million dollar advance for two books. And after the pub experienced an internal shakeup, my books along with a whole bunch of others, were simply tossed to the side. The end result was that I couldn't even begin to earn back my advance. Add to that, the big chain bookstores pulling the paper off the shelves after six weeks, and you smell a recipe for disaster.

Success this very minute is far different.
By that, I mean I am now being published responsibly.

What does responsible publishing entail?

The author earns what he or she sells. It's as simple as that, and it is not an new idea by any stretch of the imagination. Back when Hemingway started, authors might receive a very tiny advance, but they were paid by how many books they sold. Book runs were small, and essentially POD. The evil system of returns had not yet been conceived of by the booksellers association. Authors didn't have agents, and they weren't issued a pile of money they couldn't begin to pay back. Not without their book becoming a No. 1 bestseller and staying there for ten weeks. In a word, the system worked.

Responsible publishing not only means earning what you sell, but it means building an audience and pleasing that audience as best you can. Which means offering them sales like books for a buck, or doubles for five bucks, and making sure you earn every penny of that currency with great writing and a cool cover. Every penny that's earned is yours and your publisher's to keep. If you self-publish, you get the whole pot after you pay off your subcontracted editors, artists, etc.

I feel that my numbers will probably level off at some point, but will stay in low hundreds territory for a long, long time. Other indie authors are proving that the new responsible publishing model like that available at StoneGate Ink, tends to work this way. Authors like Joe Konrath, Aaron Patterson, LJ Sellers, Debbie Mack and so many others are doing what a whole lot of big advance authors working out of New York are not doing: They are selling in droves. And what's more, we're talking E-Books here. These books are not coming off the cyber shelves anytime soon or at all for that matter. Maybe The Innocent is no 3 or 4 overall today, and given time and price changes, may slide down to 50 or even 200. But with some revised package enhancement and new pricing, that same book could be the no. 1 overall bestseller two years from now when my audience might be four or fives times as large. The book will once again be re-introduced to a whole new group of readers from around the globe.

So again, how do I feel about having a breakout bestseller or two?

Like the old Beatles song goes, I feel fine.

But I'm also guarded and I'm not about to quit my journalism entirely. I'm not about to diminish my marketing efforts. I will however be cutting back on certain trade journalism projects in order to write more fiction. Because like newbie indie and bestselling author Barry Eisler recently pointed out, the best way for an author to maximize his or her sales earning potential is by writing more books.

Which is why I'm going to end this blog and get back to the fiction.

Vincent Zandri is an award-winning, bestselling novelist, essayist and freelance photojournalist. His novel As Catch Can (Delacorte) was touted in two pre-publication articles by Publishers Weekly and was called "Brilliant" upon its publication by The New York Post. The Boston Herald attributed it as “The most arresting first crime novel to break into print this season.” Translated into several languages including Japanese, Russian, French and the Dutch, Zandri’s work has also been sought out by numerous major movie producers, including Heyday Productions and DreamWorks. Other novels include Moonlight Falls (R.J.Buckley), Godchild (Bantam/Dell), and Permanence (NPI). His newest thriller, The Remains (Stone House) will be published in July, 2010 in E-Book and in November, as a Trade Paperback. Forthcoming novels include The Concrete Pearl (Stone Gate), a new detective series starring the brassy but beautiful construction business owner, Ava "Spike" Harrision, and the re-publication of the classic, As Catch Can (Stone Gate).

An adventurer and freelance photojournalist, Zandri has been the author of the blogs, Dangerous Dispatches and Embedded in Africa for Russia Today TV (RT). He also writes for other global publications, including Culture 11, Globalia and Globalspec. Zandri’s nonfiction has appeared in New York Newsday, Hudson Valley Magazine, Game and Fish Magazine and others, while his essays and short fiction have been featured in many journals including Fugue, Maryland Review and Orange Coast Magazine.

He holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College and is a 2010 International Thriller Writer’s Awards panel judge. Zandri currently divides his time between New York and Europe. He is the drummer for the Albany-based punk band to Blisterz.

You can visit his website at